Effective Boarding Home Parents

Parents want to do the job that God has called them to do, but they also want to care for their children, a part of what God has called them to do. As a Boarding Home Parent, you have a unique opportunity to come alongside these parents and help them care for their children. What do you think some of your greatest challenges will be in your new role?

“Houseparents, to be effective, are seen as needing to provide an emotional and relational anchor for boarding school students. Providing a model for Christian love and respect in their own marital relationship, blending discipline with encouragement, and, in essence, being truly surrogate parents are seen as highly desirable.” (Powell and Andrews)

MK-CART/CORE (Missionary Kid – Consultation and Research Team/Committee on Research and Endowment), formed in 1987, has completed some important research studies: 1) Boarding School Personnel Study (BSP), 2) Adult MK Study (AMK) and 3) the Missionary Family Profile Study (MFP). The research completed by MK CART/CORE found that there are five areas of effectiveness for Houseparents[1]:

  1. Commitment: strong interest and commitment to the child(ren); enjoyment in being with children; vital relationship with the Lord; and a capacity to help children develop their strengths.
  2. Communication: ability to communicate emotionally and an awareness of children’s and adolescents’ feelings, ideas, dreams and hopes; knowing how to communicate and when; and the ability to listen patiently.
  3. Relationships: capacity to build relationships with children and their parents; balancing tasks, relationships, and understanding each unique student; people oriented instead of task oriented, and the ability to live and work cross-culturally.
  4. Martial Satisfaction: a good relationship with one’s spouse can serve as a source of good modeling of maturity, effective communication, dealing with the practical, every day things, sharing joys and sorrows, etc.
  5. Preparation: exposure to psychology and counseling courses, child development theory, practical skills development, supervised experience in caring for children and group leadership, etc.

To be an effective boarding home parent, you do not need to be a youth pastor or a camp counselor, you just need to love kids and know how to parent them. This is a place where you enjoy the best of both worlds. You are serving God in a third world country, but without giving up electricity, plumbing or even the Internet.

[1] Information comes from: The Family in Mission: Understanding and Caring for Those Who Serve, Leslie Andrews (General Editor), MK CART/CORE, published by Mission Training International, 2004.